Freaking Race Etiquette

I ran a course by myself yesterday….the Miami Super Spartan 2014 was amazing. It was a trail runners course for sure. As a friend described it, it was ten obstacles, followed by a 10k, followed by ten more obstacles. There was a lot of time spent in the greenery and thus a lot of alone time.

It was perfect because I needed to run a course on my own this time. I wanted to see what I could do alone and really needed some mind clearing time. I then volunteered as an obstacle marshall for the second half of the day. That was an amazing experience. It was an excellent day. I’m glad I did it and now I’m looking forward to running my next race with my cronies.

My day led me to this blog. There are some annoying things that happen out on a course. A lot of it is people just don’t know proper etiquette. Some of it is that some people are just assholes. I’m going to address both groups here, so some things are meant to be informative and some are just, well, me bitching.

This is written with NON Elite Obstacle Racing in mind. I know Elites have their own rules and street races have a whole different Playbook.

You probably don’t use your turn signals either.

Oh, passing on the course. I think (hope) this is just something new runners need to be taught and not seasoned people being pissy.

It is pretty simple. Call it. Just say what side you’re going to. Yell “passing on your left”. Or if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, say something nice like “I’m going to pass on your left side please and thank you.”

Now, if you hear someone call, you should then scootch over if you can. This does not mean just because someone calls passing that you have to jump off the cliff or climb a tree to get out of their way…just move if you can.

I’ve been taught to stick to the right of a path while running and pass to the left. Others do it the other way. It really doesn’t matter what side if people are calling and responding.

Related issue – if you are running in a group, don’t take up the whole path by walking/jogging/running next to each other. It just causes trouble for everyone. See below high tech graphic:

| = path
X = your teammates

Yes: | XX|
| X|

No: |XXX|

You’re not good enough to act like an ass.

Amelia Boone, Hobie Call, Muddy Mommy and Matt NovaIMessUpHisNameEverytime (The Bear) are all people that may be able to get away with griping under the breath when they are annoyed by a racer or an obstacle or a volunteer. They have earned some leeway in that department. But guess what? They are usually the last ones to act like jerks on the course. And neither should you. Everyone out there is conquering something and you have no idea what that is. Be nice and supportive whenever possible and keep your mouth shut if that’s not your thing.

If a slower racer blocks your path and you have an overwhelming urge to whine at them or you feel the need to roll your eyes instead of give high fives, pay the extra money and run the elite heat. Don’t be a jerk to open heat racers.

That volunteer probably ran the race faster than you already.

RACERS need volunteers. Yes, I said the racers, not the race companies. Imagine how much a race would cost if every volunteer role had to be replaced with a paid staff member. It would be outrageous.

On top of that, volunteers aren’t really rolling in the bennies. An average race runs about 75 bucks. A volunteer usually works 5-8 hours at least. Do the math. They aren’t getting an outrageous hourly rate. Most volunteers do it mostly for the fun of it.

Additionally, if it’s the afternoon of a race or Sunday, it’s a good bet that the volunteer has already competed.

So what? Well, I say this to remind people that race volunteers are awesome so at the very least be polite if not down right nice to them.

Listen to their instructions, thank then when you can and don’t throw trash in their area. Heck, if you’re having an issue with the obstacle, see if they have a tip for you. I think a lot of racers don’t appreciate that a volunteer who has run the course can be a great resource.

I highly recommend that everyone volunteer at least once. It’s a blast and you can learn a lot that can help improve your racing (plus you get to hang out with spartan race staff….the epitome of coolness…)

You’re making the obstacle wobble.

Racer interactions I have had:

Kicked in the face at a mud pit. Check.

Fingers stepped on while climbing a wall. Check.

Barbed wire whipped down on my face. Check.

Atlas stone dropped on my toes. Check.

Crap happens on the course. It’s unavoidable and can sometimes be hilarious. That being said, everyone needs to maintain situational awareness and not forget that there are other people around you. It’s great you got under the barbed wire by lifting it up, but don’t just let it go to whiplash everyone behind you. I’m thrilled that you’re trucking through that low crawl but watch for the person in front of you. They can’t see with their feet so it’s up to you not run into their feet with your face. Some people panic when they are high up so don’t knock into them while they are white knuckling that top rung.

Accidents happen and you can’t get all huffy when they do, but make sure to pay attention to how your actions may be affecting other racers.

That cup isn’t heavy.

For the love of whatever deity you worship, trash goes into a trash can, not strewn about the course or venue. It’s disrespectful and lazy and elicits many curse words from me when I see trash strewn about.

Fuel trash – I propose that you have to declare fuel items (island boost, jelly beans, or my favorite salt supplement, mustard packs) at the start of the race and then you get checked at the end of the race. 30 burpees for every empty packet you don’t bring back, all before your time stops……But, seriously, you obviously had some way to carry that Gu Packet five miles into the course. You can dang well put the empty packet back into that same place until you get to a trash can.

Water cups – There are only three options here. Non negotiable….1) stay at the water station and put your cup in the trash can (IN the trash can…this isn’t horseshoes. No credit for near the can.) 2) carry it to the next obstacle and nicely ask a volunteer to throw it away for you (they have trash bags somewhere and would love to help you out.) 3) carry the cup to the next trash can and put it….wait for it….in the trash can!!!!! I swear, carrying the cup will add very little to your overall finishers time.

Clothing – Similar to the fuel trash….you bring it on to the course, it either goes in a trash can by your own hand or you take it off the course with you.

The Venue – I heard a PA Announcement in the venue yesterday. They had to remind people to pick up after themselves. The venue isn’t some magical place where all trash disappears because you leave it on the ground. Put your trash in a trash can. In case you aren’t quite sure what one looks like, here is a typical race trash can:


Well, there is my freaking race etiquette guide.

Fellow racers – I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve written and what you would add to this list. Let’s share some love to make every race covered in mud colored awesome sauce!

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